By Onrie Kompan (writer), Giovanni Timpano (artist), Adriana De Los Santos (colorist)
The Story: In his maniacal quest for power and dominion over Asia, the Supreme Warlord of Japan dispatches General Todo to Korea to subjugate the country, which is already on the verge of ruin from a lack of military leadership. In the midst of such ruin, Admiral Yi Soon Shin of the Korean Navy rises up to inspire his country and defy a nation.
The Good: Hey, I’m as much a fan of superhero comics as the next Geek, but sometimes I like to vary my reading experience with…well, SOMETHING ELSE. It’s why I read 300, Criminal, and Scarlet, and you know what? It’s why I dug the hell out of this comic. I fully endorse any comic that’s willing to explore new genres, and to find a historical fiction comic that can deliver the kind of widescreen, epic action that you would expect from a quality foreign film is a rare, but very good thing. This story delivers the shit in a way that would make Kurosawa happy, and in all the ways that count, this is a quality that is sincerely cooler than the latest issue of Avengers Bendis is willing to excrete, due in no small part to the fact that you immediately understand that Kompan and crew care about the story they’re crafting. I sense that this is a story that Kompan has meticulously researched, and the passion he clearly feels to share this historical tale is apparent in every well-crafted page, and he frames that story around a plot that is palatable and easy to follow. The story of Yi Soon Shin is the story of a man who has had the burden of Greatness thrust upon him, whether he likes it or not. It is the story of a man who, by sheer necessity, has taken it upon himself to rise to the challenge of leading his nation through adversity and chaos. I like this. I admire this. I identify with this. And frankly, as a reader of the form, these are themes that I enjoy experiencing. Timpano brings this tale of war and honor to life with a style that is gritty enough to make war look like the atrocity is, and intricate enough to lend an air of authenticity to the time period. Fun to read, beautiful to look at, this is a good comic that doesn’t need to rely on men in tights to sell issues, and I rather like that.
The Not So Good: While I respect the amount of research and thought Kompan put into this story, I felt like he relied too heavily on his script at times and didn’t trust Timpano enough to carry the narrative when it was appropriate to do so. Case in point, around the beginning of Shin’s naval battle with the Japanese, there’s a panel of arrows and cannonballs flying through the air, which was self-explanatory enough without Kompan slapping a caption over the panel saying “an angry storm of arrows and cannonballs descends upon General Todd’s navy.” Well…yeah, I can see that. I felt like Kompan sacrificed Timpano’s art in a lot of places for the sake of his own script, and that’s a shame because Timpano’s art is more than capable of helping to carry the plot, especially in the battle scenes that would have been more effective if I didn’t have to wade through so much exposition. Then again, having said that, I was a little disappointed that Timpano’s art seemed so strangely detached from the main naval battle. Shot primarily through wide and bird’s eye angles, it felt more like a documentary and less like I was in the middle of a brutal campaign, and that meant I was less invested in the moment than I wanted to be.
Conclusion: This comic is poised to be the kind of widescreen, epic action that you love in your favorite summer blockbuster. Fans of historical fiction will find much to life in this comic, and fans of comics will like that this is a quality, independent story produced by a team of creators that care about they’ve set out to achieve. Good Stuff!